Hasta la Byebye

Om nom nom

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A fleeting thought on Hillary

Just finished reading a New York Magazine adaptation from Michael Wolff's forthcoming book about the Trump Campaign and White House. It was a very good read, though I was extremely frustrated with the lack of sourcing (which will hopefully be remedied in the book itself).

I then made the mistake of scrolling down far enough to read some of the comments. One of these said something about how Hillary was such a terrible candidate for Trump to have been able to beat her given his team's major deficiencies. And it made me think something that I haven't heard very many people say: We let Hillary's character get assassinated. We let her look like a bad person and a crook. All of us, from Hillary herself on down to her little supporters like me, let it happen, and we let her become a bad candidate.

I loathed Hillary in 2008 for no particular reason other than that she was campaigning against Obama, and there were some things that looked disingenuous (for example, double-fisting whiskey shots in a Pennsylvania(?) bar). And I mistakenly hated the idea of an individual mandate for health care, which she supported and Obama opposed at the time. My distaste for her was disproportionate to her supposed offenses, though, and I don't know why. Maybe because I had an unconscious bias again women, or maybe because I really hated the idea of a Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton string of presidencies, or maybe something else. But it was a feeling I saw reflected manifold in 2016 across the country.

I started to grow out of that very shortly after the 2008 campaign ended, when she and Obama reconciled and she was picked to be Secretary of State. I grew to respect her a lot. And when 2015 came around I was 100% on board the Hillary train, fulfilling my ongoing role of being, as one person put it, "anti-anti-establishment". While many of my friends and family took delight in the unfolding trainwreck that was the Republican primary process, I was horrified from the moment that Trump started gaining traction in the polls, and that feeling never left. I expected and feared that he would win the nomination (though I didn't expect him to take the presidency too), if for no other reason than that it would be devastating to our politics, which was already historically hyper-partisan, facile, and littered with ad hominems.

What started as a continuation of the old anti-Clinton lambasting train took a more cutting note with Trump. She has her flaws, to be sure; she isn't the perfect candidate or a perfect person. She is a weasely politician a lot of the time. But I fundamentally believe that she is a damn good person, and someone that I can trust on every metric that I need to trust a president. But in our discourse Hillary became a bad person, and the media essentially took this as given. Trump and the Republican campaign put out so much invective that it seemed like the neutral observers could only latch on to some of it--often getting a lot of blowback in the process--, letting the rest filter slowly into our minds whether we wanted it to or not. A few years back she was a very popular member of Obama's cabinet, but now she triggered an all-too-familiar revulsion in so many people.

And then Trump won. He won for a lot of reasons, but he couldn't have done it against someone who had a positive approval rating. I don't know what we could or should have done, but we damn well didn't do a good job. Republicans, Democrats, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, the campaigns, the press, the people; we all failed our country. Some of us worked really hard and did really important work, but in the end, on aggregate, we did it wrong. Hillary Clinton shouldn't have been tarred and feathered the way she was, and she shouldn't have lost. We succeed together, and we fail together: too simplistic to sum up my feelings, but good enough for a fleeting thought.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Just finished BoJack Horseman Season 4

And let me tell you, I am feeling some feels. I can't get the phrase "if I had half a mind..." out of my head, and I saw the relevant episode yesterday. Let's hope they announce season 5 soon.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Onward

Two quick hits, dear reader(s):

1) I'd like to once again thank the excellent human being that's been feeding me delicious, nourishing reminders of a bygone era. You are too good. <3

2) It has rapidly become clear to me that the time has come to seek new employment. At the present moment I feel dejected because my desired profession is as yet out of reach--too much machine learning and other hocus pocus that I am not versed in yet. But there are intermediate options but a short hop away, and I'm confident that I can make that jump, once I've pulled my shit together. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The swirling amalgamation of not-unpleasant feelings

First: Thank you, dear friend--you know who you are. Please forgive me for only adhering to 50-75% of your wishes. I miss you. Be well.

Now: To clarify on the last post, I'm not unhappy, but I know I'm also not fulfilling the expectations that I have for myself. My progress towards doing so is slow and uneven, but it is progress nevertheless, and I will continue to soldier on.

But I am impatient and frustrated with my partially-willful inability to go faster and be stronger. Steps 1 through 5 (and others that have and will be discovered) are both means and ends, which makes them more desirable but simultaneously harder to execute if you aren't doing so already.

So... onward!
(Also, I'm really hoping my imminent trip to California will result in some extra sleep. Fingers crossed.)

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The keys to happiness

1) Find a way to consistently engage with the world in an edifying way
2) Avoid burning yourself out
3) Sleep
4) Exercise
5) Don't stress about things that don't matter too much, or toward which you have no agency nor desire to exercise agency
6) Unknown

Currently 0/6, I think, barring a sudden turnaround on #2. At least I'm starting to let go of the paradigm that more rest and disengagement is universally good when you want to build energy. Now I just need to find a way to actually engage without the burnout.

Here's hoping that sleep will do the trick! #Belatednewyearresolutions

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Per Matt Russell:

"Russells like odd numbers". Put that in Google, mofos.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Eugh

Might need to cancel those Pickity Place reservations after that gut-punch.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Words from Danielle

"I don't think we can be together anymore. I feel like the whole basis of our relationship is shifting underneath me right now. If you don't like waffles I don't know what to believe."

(I told her that I WANT to like waffles, but the last five times we've had them I've felt underwhelmed.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My birthday was this past Sunday

And as a special gift, Ted Cruz announced yesterday that he is running for president.
 
I've been trying to put my feelings into words, but it's proving futile. Embarrassed? Disappointed? Angry? Something like those, I suppose.

Monday, March 09, 2015

It's almost midnight

And I don't care, bitches!

No, wait. I do care. I'm getting sleepy/old.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Sometimes you feel sleepy

And sometimes you don't.

Right now, I'm rather more tired than I am sleepy. I woke a touch before 4:00 and didn't do a very good job of shutting my brain back down. Instead, I thought.

Yesterday I had my annual performance review. I did well--better than I expected. Perhaps better than I thought I deserved. We all know the old adage that you are your own worst critic.

But this year was better than last year, both in terms of the review itself and how I felt about it. A major part of that is the change in work volume and improvement of workload distribution. Not unrelatedly, I was a lot less burnt-out, and that showed through. I don't have the vigor that comes with loving one's work, but it's good not to have a perpetual storm cloud lurking within.

Now we just need to find a reason to feel some of that elusive vigor.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Go away, John Boehner

On October 14th, 2013, I used the pulpit afforded by Facebook to shout in frustration:

I don't like making broad, unequivocal statements about serious business using big words. That being said, that's apparently my thing. That also being said, John Boehner has enabled and abetted an extraordinarily harmful and stupid run of pandering, demagoguery, and brinksmanship, and he should be removed from the office of Speaker of the House forthwith. I don't understand how someone who held such esteem for his own office could allow this. Big decisions are hard, especially in circumstances like these, but there are limits to how much can be tolerated. I do not respect this man.

I strongly believed what I said then, and I strongly believe it now. (Though these days I might say "brinkmanship" instead of "brinksmanship". I might also do a better job of phrasing if I were planning for it to show up in the more august medium of The Blog.)

Part of the problem with the House of Representatives today is that John Boehner has very dutifully adhered to the "Hastert Rule" during his Speakership, except in times of desperation. For those who are unfamiliar with the Hastert Rule, and who don't like links, Dennis Hastert was the Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007, and I didn't like him either. His rule states that a bill shall not be brought to the floor for a vote if it would not be supported by a majority of the representatives from the majority party, except in truly extraordinary circumstances. The rule wasn't derived from any existing House customs or rules, but it was a major part of Hastert's governing philosophy.

The majority party in the House is able to wield more power than would be implied by the raw number of seats they won; this is generally how republics work. Elections have consequences, and I don't have a problem with it as long as the majority party does not abuse its advantage. It is the Speaker's prerogative to generally control the flow of proposed legislation; however, strict adherence to the Hastert Rule constitutes abuse of power if it prevents or significantly delays the passage of important legislation. There were several instances where John Boehner's unwillingness to break the rule resulted in damage to the institution of the House of Representatives and to the government in general. In October 2013, when I made my frustrated Facebook post, the government was shut down for 16 days and the United States nearly defaulted on its debt obligations due to the exceedingly stupid behavior of many legislators, headlined by Mr. Boehner.

The link I provided on the Hastert Rule lists the six times that Speaker Boehner violated the rule thus far. It shows that Boehner is not a completely inflexible robot. In fact, Nancy Pelosi only violated the rule seven times in her four years as Speaker. But here's the difference: Boehner's fractured caucus has handcuffed him and made it much more difficult to stick to the Hastert Rule in the best of circumstances; if he were to actually work on bills that had a chance of passing through the Senate and obtaining the President's signature, the number of Hastert Rule violations would skyrocket. The fact that the number of violations is so low reflects how little the House has been able to accomplish in the past four years. A huge proportion of needed legislation of low/medium priority is shelved, while a despairing amount of high priority legislation is dealt with only after we've entered a crisis, caused by a refusal to compromise. Sometimes the crises aren't even resolved in time. Our sovereign debt rating has been downgraded; our government budget has been slashed in a uniform, efficiency-destroying "sequester"; we suffered that government shutdown I mentioned earlier. All of it has the imprimatur of John Boehner--not because he wanted these things to happen, but because he was unable or unwilling to face down with the Republican caucus and pass bipartisan solutions timelily.

If John Boehner truly respects the institutions that he's part of, he needs to be willing to resign his Speakership. This week's minor crisis to fund the Department of Homeland Security underscores the point that has been made over and over again to the point of absurdity: Speaker Boehner is an ineffective leader. If Boehner will try to continue to limp along, we need a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to elect a new speaker; one who's willing to deal with the unprecedentedly undisciplined Republican caucus by violating the Hastert Rule just a little more often. This won't solve the numerous problems in our government, but it sure would be a useful step.
 
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